The Impeachment Wild Cards Trump Confronts in a Senate Trial

(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump has openly cheered for the impeachment process to move to the friendlier confines of the GOP-led Senate, yet there may be some surprises in store for him on the way to a likely acquittal.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the idea’s “inconceivable” at that will point that will the Senate will convict Trump on any articles of impeachment sent over coming from the House. the idea might take at least 20 Republican votes — along with all Democrats — to form the two-thirds majority required to remove Trump, in addition to at present there are exactly zero.

McConnell in addition to Trump, though, do have a different math problem. Call the idea the Rule of Four: the idea might take only four Republican defections to give Democrats an advantage in setting the rules for who testifies, how long the process goes on in addition to different procedural steps that will will set the tone in addition to tempo for the trial.

that will has potential to add drama to the proceedings, along with the prospect of court rulings, fresh witnesses or evidence that will could alter the trajectory of the impeachment process.

Here are 5 wild cards as the likely Senate impeachment trial takes shape:

Chief Justice John Roberts Presiding

The Constitution calls for the chief justice of the U.S. to preside over a Senate impeachment trial, so John Roberts — a man Trump has sharply criticized inside past — will be in position to play a potentially pivotal role.

Precedent can be thin — only two different U.S. presidents have faced such a trial — in addition to the Senate doesn’t develop the standard rules of evidence that will a case heard in a regular court might have. While that will gives Roberts latitude in ruling on such matters, his predecessor, the late William Rehnquist, used a light touch when he presided at former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial.

Rehnquist ruled early on that will, “The Senate can be not simply a jury, the idea can be a court in that will case.” He also praised the Senate’s leaders for agreeing on procedural rules despite their differences on the substance of the trial, calling that will “the hallmark of any great deliberative body.”

Any senator can subject a ruling by Roberts to a Senate vote, where the Republican majority might develop the upper hand. yet they may be reluctant to take the political risk of overturning the chief justice to protect Trump, given the certainty Democrats might accuse them of enabling a cover-up.

The Witnesses Who Haven’t Been Heard

House impeachment managers as well as the president’s legal team will face choices on who to try to call to testify — provided the Senate doesn’t shut down the testimony.

Some of Trump’s most vocal supporters among GOP senators have already talked about possibly calling former Vice President Joe Biden or his son Hunter Biden, the still-anonymous whistle-blower who first raised alarms about Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president, or even House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, who led the initial House inquiry.

the idea’s not clear that will 51 senators might back subpoenas for those witnesses.

Republicans likewise could feel pressure to call witnesses who refused to testify inside House — Secretary of State Michael Pompeo; Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney; former National Security Advisor John Bolton; in addition to Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer.

The administration argued they shouldn’t have to testify in what they considered an unfair House process, yet the idea might be harder for Trump to argue that will the process in a GOP-controlled Senate isn’t fair.

Yet there may be few, if any, witnesses appearing on the Senate floor. At Clinton’s trial, senators decided they only needed to question three witnesses whose testimony was presented as excerpted videotaped depositions.

The Potential for fresh Evidence to Emerge

Trump’s refusal to let administration officials testify or turn over documents to the House inquiry may form the basis for an article of impeachment on obstruction.

While the idea’s highly unlikely at that will point that will Trump might get convicted by the Senate on any charge, the stonewalling by the administration raises the risk that will a fresh witness or document could emerge close to the beginning of a Senate trial, through a leak or even a court order.

inside Watergate investigation of Richard Nixon, the idea was only after the Supreme Court ordered the White House to turn over withheld tapes that will Republicans went to the president in addition to told him the idea was time to go. Multiple efforts by House investigators to get evidence on Trump are already moving through the courts, though Democrats have said they don’t plan to wait for a Supreme Court ruling before moving forward on impeachment.

Potential Divisions Among Republicans

While no Republican has publicly supported Trump’s impeachment so far, numerous GOP senators have endorsed letting the trial play out. Several Republicans have insisted they are keeping an open mind about the outcome, despite a weeks-long effort by Trump to woo them in meetings at the White House. that will could have consequences when the idea comes to setting the parameters for the trial.

The Senate’s formal rules governing a trial are sparse, handing House impeachment managers in addition to the president rights that will left undefined could create a process with almost no limits. Without an agreement, the Senate can’t consider any legislation or confirm nominees during the entire trial — in addition to will stay in session six days a week. that will gives both parties an incentive to agree on some basic structure for the proceeding.

If they’re united, Republicans could go the idea alone because they can pass a resolution framing the impeachment trial with just 51 votes. yet if the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial can be any guide, Republicans could agree with Democrats on the ground rules in addition to leave more contentious questions — like who might be allowed to testify — to straight party-line votes later.

The bipartisan rules for Clinton gave the House impeachment managers in addition to the president’s representative 24 hours each to present their arguments, in addition to senators 16 hours to question both sides. the idea also addressed different matters, like how a motion to dismiss might be handled in addition to a process for dealing with witnesses.

A second, partisan resolution was heatedly contentious, passing 54-44 nearly three weeks later with backing only coming from Republicans, who then had the majority inside chamber as they do right now. the idea required subpoenas for depositions coming from just three witnesses, including former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. the idea also locked in a mid-February date for votes on whether to convict or acquit.

Both McConnell in addition to Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer have indicated they will discuss a plan for the trial process once the House votes on any impeachment articles, yet they’ve said little more.

A Quick Trial or a Long Process

Barring an unforeseen shock that will shakes support among Republicans, the Senate appears destined to conduct an expedient trial with the likely outcome being a near-party line acquittal.

The Senate could debate a motion to dismiss the charges at some point, in addition to Trump carries a roster of close allies inside chamber including Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in addition to Senator Ted Cruz of Texas who could offer the idea. Simply debating in addition to defeating such a motion during the Clinton impeachment trial consumed three days.

The entire Clinton trial took about a month in addition to ended with his acquittal.

Democrats have incentives not to prolong the trial. Six Senate Democrats are running for the party’s presidential nomination. Every day spent inside Senate chamber for a trial can be a day off the campaign trail, with the first contests taking place over the first three weeks of February.

Although they may be tempted to keep the Democratic presidential candidates tied down, Republicans aren’t likely to drag things out because they’ll want to minimize any political damage to the president.

To contact the reporters on that will story: Steven T. Dennis in Washington at sdennis17@bloomberg.net;Laura Litvan in Washington at llitvan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible because of that will story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Anna Edgerton

For more articles like that will, please visit us at bloomberg.com

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